Recently in Dr Patrick Tissington Category
The recent financial disaster at UBS brought another UBS story back into the news. Back in January a detailed dress code guide for UBS staff was leaked to much hilarity.
There was also advice on how to apply body lotion and perfume, on not eating garlic and not to have tattoos.
This was held up as an example of an organisation obsessed by detail and interfering in its employees lives.
I feel the need to make a case to support PowerPoint as I think it has a bad press - even beyond it having been spawned by the universally used and equally unpopular Microsoft.
The main benefit I see is that PowerPoint forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical sequence - although you can easily shift things round if you change your mind during the design process.
Most of all though, it makes us be BRIEF.
As an academic, I am surrounded by colleagues who are immersed in their subject. For many years, if you asked me to tell you in 5 minutes what my PhD was about, I couldn't tell you.
Now I can (at emergencies, fire commanders focus on four key factors when making their decisions...). PowerPoint is great at making you do this.
I saw reported in the Post last month that our intrepid restaurant critic was taken aback by the proactive way Carluccios responded to criticism (incidentally their restaurant in Stratford is one of my favourite places!) so I hereby offer one of our largest companies the same opportunity. It is in fulfilment of my brief to name names and my previous attempt to bring down the dreadful online shopping business La Redoute has either failed as they are still in business or perhaps I succeeded and they have made major changes? Either way, I wouldn't know because of course I don't shop there any more. So I am now going to direct my attention to a local supermarket in the hope of assisting the new(ish) CEO Philip Clarke understand where there might be a weakness in the juggernaut that is TESCO.
So, it comes to that time of year when we review what has happened over the past 12 months and make resolutions for the future. Before we get to New Year Resolutions, I thought I'd take the arrogant step of making some predictions for 2011. I am going to remind myself of the old adage "prediction is difficult - especially about the future". But, I have had the crystal ball out and this is what it is telling me.
Many of us are worried at the moment - what with massive cut backs in public sector work, the knock on effect on private business, the deficit and then there is global warming, oil running out and the threat of terrorism. It would be easy to feel sorry for ourselves at being dealt this hand. So I am grateful to be removed from the gloom by a book I am reading which has left me feeling upbeat about how we are all going to cope with these (and other) challenges. I reckon this is the third recession I have worked through (well the others involved a certain amount of unemployment for me too) and I have been made redundant three times in my career. In other words, I would not regard myself as being naive about the situation. So what business book has had this effect on this cynical middle aged business academic? Of course it isn't a business book at all.
Here's an admission for you. I left work on Friday without having finished all the tasks I have on my plate.
The reason I can say for certain is because I actually do this every day. But I feel I am amongst friends because I have met many people who are the same position.
In fact, having coached dozens of executives, discussed this with hundreds of managers I have trained - including many super high achievers, I don't think any of them ever do finish everything before they leave the office.
But sometimes you think you have done everything perhaps when you go on holiday.
I would argue this is usually that you have set yourself things to do before going on holiday - a sensible strategy of ourselves - but this does not mean you have completely finished absolutely everything.
But super effective people who are promoted try to manage to finish every thing by working late, weekends or getting up extremely early and, even though they may well do these, they still won't finish everything.
Buying stuff is emotional. Just think - do you remember where you bought your watch? You remember how good it made you feel?
Or the shirt you are wearing? Or your sofa? Your car? My bet is that your feelings about the things you own have quite a lot to do with the experience on buying it.
I can still remember for example buying a pair of Vans trainers in America and that we were treated as royalty in the store and I loved those trainers for years and a good part of this was my remembering what it was like to buy them every time I put them on.
Some of this experience is lost when you buy online but my point this week is that there is still an emotional content.
The Birmingham Post has asked us bloggers to name names and be controversial so here goes. When you buy something from Amazon, somehow to me it feels personal.
Having taken a short break from blogging, I'm returning to the fray with what I hope is an upbeat message - despite the frankly awful prospects of government announcements in October. So, to the awful bit first. I get the impression from the various polling and public opinion sampling that the general mood in the country is not completely opposed to government spending cuts on principle. But there does seem to be opposition when people are asked what they think about reductions in the services they personally get from government. Perhaps the whole thing is too abstract at the moment but it is going to become only too real come October when the announcements are due. Psychologically this seems to be a case of self interest with people being fine about pain so long as it involves other people but less enthusiastic when it affects us personally. Or maybe it has more to do with not yet knowing what the impact is going to be. It is some sort of economic phoney war currently which is likely to have it's Dunkirk moment soon.
Perhaps unusually for a lecturer in a business school, I have not only run businesses, but on one occasion mortgaged my house against my business. So I have experienced going to the bank to arrange a business loan and the bank manager didn't even make a pretence of understanding our business model, he only needed one thing. Collateral. In other words, "we will lend you money only if we know where we can recover the money from your assets when it all goes wrong". I'll put this another way, "we will gladly lend you money as long as you can prove to us that you don't really need it." I thought my experience was out of date until recent conversations with the owners of SMEs. One - an old friend who has been running a small hi tech firm for 20 years now - told me in some detail how it is now more difficult to arrange lending than it has ever been. Even more difficult than at the height of the so called credit crunch. Even more difficult than 1991 which was at the height of that awful recession and his business was new and therefore without a track record!
Many many years ago I served in the British Army. This is something I am extremely proud of on many levels. The people I served with were extraordinary; capable of withstanding the most astonishing hardship and resourceful in ways that frankly civilians could never imagine. With the odd exception. Two soldiers from a unit based with us were arrested for armed robbery. They had thought through the raid on a petrol station quite thoroughly - they wore overalls, face masks and had a replica firearm. When they were arrested, they were mystified as to how they had been caught so easily. Well, said the police officer, perhaps you shouldn't have worn overalls with your name badge on. There are so many stories of rubbish criminals and it is sometimes fun to hear about them. But I think there is perhaps a serious lesson amongst it all.